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Students at NUST create a local strip intercropping technology that can reduce import costs.

In Pakistan, the total demonstration area of the maize-soybean strip intercropping technology has increased to more over 400 acres this season, or around 2.67 times that of last autumn. Also, other varieties of crops, such as wheat-soybean and sugarcane-soybean intercropping, are being added to the intercropping system.

At the National Research Centre of Intercropping (NRCI), Islamia University, a team of Pakistani agricultural scientists is studying strip intercropping technology in an effort to reduce their nation’s already astronomical import expenditure for food products, particularly soybeans.

The demonstration plots are already being harvested, which should shortly produce promising results.

“More than 200 farms used our technology last season, and the number keeps growing every day. The outcomes have satisfied farmers to a great extent. They want to use the technology on more acreage and have contacted us,”

According to Dr. Muhammad Ali Raza, director of the Sichuan Agricultural University’s (SAU) post-doctoral institute and the national research centre for intercropping (IUB), CEN.

Following years of dedication, he has achieved success as a Pakistani agronomic and intercropping research specialist. The National Research Centre of Intercropping was established on August 11, 2021, according to the idea of IUB Vice Chancellor Prof. Athar Mahboob, in order to use strip intercropping technology in Pakistan’s agriculture to increase crop yields and soil productivity.

“More than 200 farms used our technology last season, and the number keeps growing every day. The outcomes have satisfied farmers to a great extent. They want to use the technology on more acreage and have contacted us,”

As the center’s current director, Dr. Muhammad Ali Raza is driving the use of intercropping technology throughout Pakistan.

The centre has already tested the wheat-soybean strip intercropping method and created and improved the Chinese maize-soybean strip intercropping technology in accordance with regional requirements.

The centre is also developing sugarcane-based intercropping technologies to improve resource use efficiency and land productivity in Pakistan’s sugar belt. Rapeseed, soybean, clover, and chickpea were tested in strip intercropping systems with sugarcane and wheat as the primary crops, and these secondary crops were developed specifically for intercropping.

In order to promote the mechanisation of strip intercropping systems in Pakistan using the country’s already-existing farm gear, the centre is also researching other row designs, notably the larger strips.

Sino-Pak cooperation is a unique characteristic of NRCI, which operates under the motto “Think Globally, Act Locally”. In particular, China’s support for agricultural education and training would undoubtedly increase agricultural productivity in Pakistan, which would not only stabilise the country’s economic situation but also provide China with a nearby, more affordable food source, potentially easing the pressure on China’s food security.

In 2018, Pakistan received the technology for maize-soybean strip intercropping from Sichuan Agriculture University in China. As an added “bonus,” this cutting-edge Chinese technology makes better use of the available space to increase the number of crops that can be harvested on the same area of land as soybean production. This has been assisting Pakistan in reducing soybean imports and easing the country’s soybean shortage since four years ago.

Most significantly, this growing season, the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad’s Soybean Lab’s Drs. Muhammad Ali Raza and Zaheer Ahmed created a new soybean line specifically suited for intercropping (UAF). It is discovered that the novel soybean line can swiftly produce soybeans in the intercropping system at a rate of 480 to 720 kg per acre. In contrast, the yield of other soybean types only remains constant between 200 and 400 kg per acre.

This year, we used intercropping technology to plant a new soybean line and harvest the plants. This soybean line full of pods makes us joyful.
With assurance, Dr. Muhammad Ali Raza stated.

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